The Top Ten U.S. Roadside Attractions - Page 2

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Hole in the Rock, Wall Drug
IMAGES OF THE ODD: One of the rooms in Hole 'n the Rock, and Wall Drug's T-Rex, which roars every ten to 12 minutes  (images courtesy, Hole 'n the Rock and Wall Drugs)
For the Older Set
Upstate New York's Storm King Art Center would likely bore younger kids—lots of big, sculptural art that they can't touch spread across 500 acres, but for tweens and up (and their parents), give this park a cool spring or fall day and your family's imagination is sure to be sparked. The mammoth sculptures here includes works by Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Andy Goldsworthy, and other artists from the 1960s to present, along with special exhibits. The manicured landscape perfectly compliments the artwork, inviting hours-long exploration on foot—or opt for the tram tour (with audio).
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10. South of the Border and Pedroland Park in Dillon, SC
Not a tortilla's toss from I-95 and the North Carolina border is a very weird tribute to Mexican culture that most adults consider the pinnacle of theme-park tackiness. But it's easy to see why most kids love it. There are two championship miniature golf courses, a 200-foot-tall Sombrero Tower with a glass elevator and firework stand that provides year-round bang for your buck. South of the Border was originally a beer stand, circa 1950. A lot of Tecate must have been consumed, leading to a steady expansion of Mexican trinkets and Latino kitsch. Despite the flash and glitter, the Sombrero Room Restaurant is known for its tasty Mexican food (AKA the best Mexican food in northern South Carolina). Admission is free to the South of the Border complex with its 14 shops, six restaurants, amusement park, and arcade. There are also 300 hotel rooms and two pools. Rides at Pedroland Park cost about $2 each. Open 365 days a year. (800.845.6011).

9. Hole'n the Rock, UT
If you're cruising through Utah on the way to Bryce, Zion, or Arches national parks, chances are you'll see billboards advertising Hole n' the Rock. It's not the hide out of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (that's Hole in the Wall, Wyoming), but outlaws would have loved this place. The 5,000-square-foot home was dug out of the huge sandstone monolith and features 14 uniquely decorated rooms. The sandstone French fryer and bathtub are perennial favorites. Outside is an impressive cactus garden, petting zoo with odd animals, and a giant rock painting and sculpture of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The attraction is on U.S. Highway 191 in southeastern Utah. Hours: Memorial to Labor Day from 9 to 9; off-season from 9 to 6; closed Christmas and Thanksgiving (435.686.2250).

8. Roswell UFO Museum in Roswell, NM
In the 1980s, some very vocal researchers began to investigate possible UFO sightings near Roswell, NM, that occurred during a thunderstorm in 1947. Bolstered by movies like Ghost Busters, ET, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the U.S. public was ready to believe that the military had covered up an alien invasion. The small community near Roswell Army Air Field quickly became famous. Was it a flying saucer that people had seen? Or, as the military attested, simply a weather balloon? And why did the military bother to cloak the entire proceeding in secrecy? In 1992, a man who'd been an Air Force officer during the alleged cover up of 1947 started the museum. Since then, Roswell has become the epicenter of the UFO universe. There's plenty of fodder to keep conspiracy theorists and alien aficionados happy, with exhibits on the Roswell Incident, alien abductions, crop circles, ancient astronauts, and Area 51. Roswell is just off Highway 285 in southeastern New Mexico (575.625.9495).

7. Wonder Tower in Genoa, CO
Wanna see an eight-footed pig? A two-headed calf? Wonder Tower, 100 miles east of Denver on I-70 just west of the Kansas border, promises even more. Built in 1926, the Wonder Tower is like a flea market on steroids. Odd collections and curiosities like Mastodon tusks will provide sufficient fuel for conversation to get you through the Great Plains. From the top of the 60-foot tower, legend is that you can see six states—which might be true, considering the pancake-flat landscape. After making the ascent, you're rewarded with a terrific view of the Rocky Mountains to the west. Hours are 8 to 8 daily (719.763.2309).

6. Wall Drug, South Dakota
Sixty miles east of Mt. Rushmore is perhaps the most advertised store in history. It has also been a family-run business since 1931. Roadside billboards advertised Wall Drug in every state of the Union until 1965 when Lady Bird Johnson championed the highway beautification act. The massive signage disappeared—until Bill Husted (the founder's son) got himself appointed to the South Dakota State Dept. of Transportation. Wall Drug gained fame (and loyal customers) by offering free water. The water's still free, as are bumper stickers. A cup of coffee is five cents—and almost anyone with a good story gets a free donut. In addition to the sprawling interior shops, there is a fantasy land for kids in the Back Yard, with the Branding Iron Arcade, an 80-foot-tall brontosaurus, a six-foot-tall rabbit, and an Indian village. For a great photo op, stand next to the miniature Mt. Rushmore and add your mug to the line-up. The store is open 6:30 to 6 during winter, and 6:30 to 9:30 in the summer. Admission is free (605.279.2175).

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